I will give you some perspective from a Palauan from Peleliu and not a Japanese from Okinawa. The Japanese ruled the islands for about 30 years between WWI and WWII, they were cruel overlords and mainly used the Palauan people for physical labor. During the war they actually brought some Indian Gurka prisoners to Palau to work and through deprivation and hard work, they literally worked them to death. During this long occupation, the Japanese created an extensive cave network. These were for soldiers, not civilians, and were defensive. After about 10 months of brutal fighting the Allied soldiers closed the caves rather than continue fighting and I suppose you could say the Japanese soldiers died of explosions, suffocation, starvation, injuries, self inflicted death and it's probably not a far stretch to include fire. There were even caves not much more than a small opening where we would find one body sitting neatly with all their possessions. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say possibly suicide. After the war, the islands were administered by the US under a UN mandate. The Japanese government repeatedly asked the US for permission to collect their war dead. The US refused mainly because of worry that US remains might go to Japan. As forensics developed, the US finally agreed 40 years after the war. The first recovery team came about 1976. They were shown many remains and found more themselves. They had cremations in the cemetery and took the remains back to Japan. They actually found some remains that they could identify and a couple that they could identify and actually knew the families. In the past 40 years, Japanese soldier remains have been available for recovery. The responsibility rests mainly with the Japanese or expert groups because of the danger of explosives and the lack of heavy equipment. Search and recovery is not in the realm of the Peleliu people and not an expense the Palauan government is interested in making.
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Japanese is not an official language in Palau. Most of the people who spoke it are dead. The Japanese required a third grade education and forbid anything further. This way they could communicate with their subjects but not let them get too clever and cause problems. They were cruel overlords and mainly used the people for physical labor. There were curfews, strict controls of food and supplies and Palauans were not allowed in the Capitol city. Today, there are some Japanese business and many tourists but there are fewer than 2% living there.
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